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Summer Reading

CUMBERLAND – Summertime is here for Cumberland County Public Schools and that means the summer's reading program has started!

Students, according to Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin, will read a required amount of books for each grade level while on summer break.

After reading, parents will sign a reading log verifying that the students have read the required amount of books during the summer, she said while explaining the reading program during the School Board's May meeting.

One change this year is that the assignment or project, which is based on the summer reading completed, will actually be done when students return to school in August instead of over their summer break.

Dr. Griffin also noted and thanked the many church partners for participating in “book bundles.” The “book bundle” idea is also new this summer.

Book bundles have been prepared for the school division's church partners, she said, as a way to increase student access to books on the summer reading lists.

According to Dr. Griffin, book bundles will rotate three times throughout the school division's church partners over the summer.

Additional assistance can also be found by utilizing the Elementary School library between 2 and 4 p.m. on June 13, July 11, and July 25. The Middle/High School library will be open from 7:45 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. on every Tuesday of the summer-May 29; June 5, 12, 19, and 26; and July 3, 8, 17, 24, and 31.

The Elementary School is also hosting a “Summer Story Time” for students in pre-kindergarten through second grade. Books from the reading lists will be read aloud to students during Story Time and participants will do hands-on activities and enjoy a snack.

Story Time sessions will be held on the following dates: June 12 at 10 a.m., June 12 at 3 p.m., June 14 at 10 a.m., and June 26 at 3 p.m.

“Once again, we have worked hard to improve our expectations and increase access to reading materials,” noted Dr. Griffin.

When asked about the churches participating, Dr. Griffin noted the list of church partners. The churches include: Cartersville Baptist Church, Little Fork Baptist Church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Sharon Baptist Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tearwallet Baptist Church, Midway Baptist Church, Shiloh New Covenant Church, and Fitzgerald Baptist Church. These chuches would be participating in the book bundle project for the reading program.

Teacher Performance Report

The Board of Education recently approved the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers and the Virginia Standards for the Professional Practice of Teachers, according to Elizabeth Jamerson, Cumberland's director of human resources.

According to Ms. Jamerson, in order for Cumberland to be in compliance with these new guidelines, the school division must develop evaluation instruments that reflect the uniform standards that have been set by the state.

Cumberland County Public Schools recently formed a committee to revise the current utilized evaluation tool so that it conforms to the guidelines and developed a handbook that explains the new tool, she said.

The new criteria was presented as a “first read” item to the School Board in May.

“Cumberland took most of its evaluation instrument and handbook from Orange County Public Schools, since they developed their materials during a pilot project conducted under the auspices of the Department of Education,” noted Ms. Jamerson.

The teacher performance items will be set for approval in June in order for the division's policy to change.

“This is because across the state of Virginia there were so many different teacher evaluation tools,” noted Ms. Jamerson. “Some of them had many, many criteria and some of them had very few and there were all different levels of teacher evaluations.”

So, the Department of Education decided on a “uniform” evaluation tool.

“We were not that far away from the state model to begin with because we already counted student performance as part of our evaluation tool,” continued Ms. Jamerson. “We have modified our instrument slightly and this is the policy that you have for a first read.”

According to the draft, student performance will count for 40 percent of the evaluation instrument, which is based on student achievement.

“When teachers are evaluated we're going to have to look at how their students are improving and that's going to count 40-percent of their evaluation total.”

There will also be four levels of performance criteria included in the instrument, she offered.

The handbook is in the draft stage, too, according to Ms. Jamerson.

“Then we will put it on the teacher drive so all the teachers can look at it to see how it is and if they have any final comments,” she said. “But, basically, we think our tool and our handbook is pretty much finished.”

School Board member Dr. Christine Ross asked, “What's the intent for student…measurement? Are we using portfolios, are we using a pre or post tests…I'm trying to control myself because it's brining up using the SOLs to measure teacher performance.”

According to Ms. Jamerson, that was not the school division's choice to use SOL scores as a measurement.

“The state has come up with a rather convoluted and difficult to explain format for measuring student progress. For a lot of the classes there will be no student SOL test to use and we'll be using portfolio and instruments that we are already using to a certain extent…In CTE courses, we'll be using the competencies or how many students have acquired student certifications.”

According to Dr. Ross, one measurement should never be a “be-all or end-all.”

The recommendation related to SOL measurement is that it should count 20-percent if the class has a SOL test or 20 percent otherwise.

“That means that any teacher that would perhaps have a bad SOL score would still have 20-percent of that 40-percent for another measure,” added Ms. Jamerson.

Dr. Griffin then suggested, “The teacher has to set a student achievement goal at the beginning of the year. They have to look at where their students have been and how I will show growth… You should a percentage of growth and the state has a formula now… We will have a professional development with the teachers on setting their goals so they won't have to go out and do it on their own.”

In Other School News

The School Board adopted the Technology Plan that was presented as a “first read” item in April. The Department of Education requires that each school division have a long-range Technology Plan in place that meets the state's guidelines.

The Talented and Gifted Plan was also approved as presented. The 2011-2016 Talented and Gifted Plan was also presented in April for review.

The changes that were presented earlier to Policy JGD/JGE: Student Suspension/Expulsion were also adopted.

The Board approved the recommended changes to the school's policy related to the procedures that are in place concerning the appeal process.

Chair Ginger Sanderson also reviewed the School Board's goals.

Sanderson updated those in attendance about the Board's work related to the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget process.

“If I Had A Hammer”

Three students from the fourth grade presented information to the School Board about their recent experience with students from Hampden-Sydney College while participating in the “If I Had A Hammer” build.

The fourth graders helped the students from Hampden-Sydney build a model house.

The goal of the event, according to Principal Jeff Scales, was to enhance student learning by providing a real-world exercise.

The curriculum in the program targets math skills such as fractions and shows students real-world applications for math.

During the presentation, the fourth graders explained to the School Board how the “Big Inch” method has assisted them in their classes.

The students from Hampden-Sydney are part of The Center for Entrepreneurship and Political Economy.

Student Recognitions

In traditional fashion the School Board recognized the Students of the Month during its meeting.

Jordan Smith, grade four, received the award for the Cumberland Elementary School; A'Jewelay Book, grade six, received a plaque for the Middle School; and Rebecca Jamerson and Jasmyn Toney, seniors, received the honor for the High School.

Jamerson was the Class of 2012's valedictorian and Toney was the Salutatorian.

Student liaisons to the School Board for the past academic year also received recognition from the Board.

Christopher Deane and Kelsey Tucker have assisted with liaison duties between the students and the School Board for the past year.

Mason Dukes was recognized as the new student liaison to the School Board.

According to the presentation, Dukes will be a senior next year and is currently in the Associate's Degree cohort. Upon graduation, he also plans to attend Longwood University and major in pre-med or biology. His goal is to become an emergency room surgeon or open his own medical practice.

He was president of his junior class and was captain of the varsity wrestling team and cross-country team. He also is a member of the Youth Usher Board at Sharon Baptist Church.

According to Dr. Griffin, Dukes “expressed a desire to serve as the student liaison to the School Board to provide student leadership and input to the Board and assist in moving Cumberland County Public Schools forward.”

Aaron Sims received his West Point Leadership Award and the Youth Leadership Conference participant was announced.

Sylvia Fusari will participate in that conference this summer.

The participants of the Governor's Challenge Team were also recognized for their hard work and Cameron Chambliss was honored for his score on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The Challenge Team included: Tiana Branch, Lacreesha Reed, Ashton Showalter, and Jasmyn Toney. Their teacher was Michael Sutton.

The members of the Cumberland High School Honor Society received certificates from the School Board during this segment of the meeting.

The Meet the Staff recognition went to Omar Liggins.

According to the presentation, Liggins enjoys athletics and was a three-sport athlete in school. He has been a coach at Cumberland since 2005 and he officially became a member of the custodial staff in 2008. Liggins has held the positions of head girl's basketball coach, and assistant football and track coach.

The Meet the Community certificate went to Debbie and Marcy Owen of Southern Comfort Antique and Furniture in Cumberland.

Retiring members of the school's staff were also recognized during the meeting and at a reception before the meeting started that evening.

Linda Carter Lineweaver is retiring as Cumberland Middle School's guidance counselor. She has worked in the school division for the last eight years.

Clarence Daniels is retiring after 17 years of service in the transportation department at Cumberland County Public Schools.

Governor's School students recognized included: Mary Huddleston, Mary Stewart, Chelsea Deane, Xaivia Royall, Nyesha Byakatonda, and Kyra Trent.

The pre-engineering students awarded certificates were Jacob Dandridge and Nicole Jefferson.

School Board Comments

Dr. Ross congratulated the graduates from Cumberland High School's Class of 2012.

She also reminded those in attendance about the time spent at the beginning of the meeting utilized for recognizing students.

School Board member George Reid Jr. thanked the student liaisons for their work assisting the School Board throughout the school year.

“Thanks to Chris and Kelsey for being our student liaisons,” he said. “…I wish you much success.”

Later Deane said, “…I would not choose anyone other than Mason Dukes, of his class, and I think he will excel far past what I've done…”

School Board member Eurika Tyree also thanked the students for assisting the Board this past school year.

“To the Class of 2012, congratulations and I'm excited…,” she said. “Again, congratulations to everyone for 2012.”

“It seems like anytime we send our very short staff from the Central Office to a meeting you guys are coming back with something that this County has achieved in,” said Ms. Sanderson at the end of the meeting. “I guess I am so proud to be a part of it…You guys are doing it with less…but I have been just in awe of what students are doing, staff is doing.”